Helping Hires Fit In Can Curb Job-Hopping

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Finding the right person for a job requires a hefty investment of time and money. But once the new hire is on the clock, it's no time for an employer to relax. About one-third of companies reported losing up to 25 percent of new hires within the first 12 months, according to a survey released in 2007 by Novations Group, a global consulting firm.

Another study of 840,000 workers in multinational companies conducted in 2007 by Kenexa, a talent-management company, noticed a marked drop in satisfaction the longer an employee is on the job. Early on, nearly three-quarters of hires are generally excited and engaged about their work, Kenexa's survey showed. From the sixth to 18th months, however, satisfaction levels begin to decline sharply, and by the end of the second year, many employees are seeking new jobs.

"Every person who leaves costs the company money in some form. But the greatest waste, certainly, are the people that you've just hired," said Tim Vigue, executive consultant for Novations. "You've put some costs up front in recruiting and interviewing and making the hiring decision, and, of course, they vary from a few thousand dollars for junior, non- exec positions to hundreds of thousands of dollars (for top-level leaders).

"It's like throwing a bunch of money into a stock that crashes three weeks after you bought (in)." It's not just entry- or junior-level workers who are jumping ship. "The dirty secret in the executive-recruiting world is about 40 percent of executive placements fail," said Richard J. Kinsley, owner of The Kinsley Group in Indianapolis.

Why do recent additions get the "six-month itch" and bail so soon? It starts with a concept that Mark McNulty, president of Indianapolis-based HR Dimensions, the Career Partners International – Indianapolis firm, calls "job fit. It's not just: Does this person feel like they're going to fit in our environment?" McNulty explained. "It has to do with: Do they have the cognitive abilities to do this particular job? Do they have the interest to do it, and do they have the kind of behaviors that are going to be successful?"

Too often, McNulty said, companies rely solely on a selection interview to determine a prospective employee's suitability. A better approach, he said, is to spend some time up front for a more in-depth assessment of a candidate. A variety of companies offer software and other tools designed to assist with the task, he said. Other companies are profiling their best employee performances at jobs and creating a baseline to measure job candidates against.

McNulty also recommends behavioral interviewing, in which a candidate is asked to identify a challenging situation he or she has faced, detail the action he/she took and describe the result of that action. "That has been shown to much better predict whether a person is going to be successful, because past success predicts future success," McNulty said.

It's also important for the human-resources rep, manager and others involved in the selection process to be open about what the prospective hire will face. Unrealistic expectations about the job and/or the organization is the No. 1 reason why new hires derail, Vigue said. Workers who don't get such information may find themselves in a job where they are trying to "force-fit" themselves into the position, Kinsley cautioned.

Hiring the right person for the job is only half of the equation, however, add the experts. Making sure that an individual gets the proper on-site orientation, training, tools and connections -- a process known as on-boarding -- is vital to protecting the new-hire investment. "It goes beyond just pointing out where the restrooms are and having somebody take them to lunch on the first day," says Kinsley. A "failure to grasp how things get done around the organization" is the second-most-cited reason for new hires to leave a job in the first year, the Novations study reported.

McNulty suggests companies assign a mentor to each new hire, someone who "has some sort of formal responsibility to teach them about the culture: How do we get things done around here?"

It's also helpful to provide a road map for success, Vigue points out, one that clearly defines expectations for the new person and offers a timeline for meeting those goals. "In other words, we want you to be dependent and ask a lot of good questions up front. And then we're going to expect you at some point to transition into independence and contributing at a full level. And this is about how long that should take, and these are the steps you need to do in order to get there."

How job seekers can ensure compatibility

Tips on how to make a smooth transition in a new job:

  • Don't force a fit. If something about the new position gives you pause, trust those instincts and explore the situation further before signing on, said Tim Vigue, executive consultant for Boston- based Novations Group.
  • Ask questions wisely. Ask good questions and learn from them, especially during the first three to six months in a job. Your priority is to "learn the ropes," Vigue said.
  • Be proactive. If you feel you're floundering, don't be shy in seeking the help you need, whether it's a more in-depth orientation, introductions to the right people or the assistance of a mentor. "Really step up and say, 'I want to be successful. I came here to have a big impact.' If it isn't happening for you, do it for yourself," said Richard J. Kinsley, owner of The Kinsley Group in Indianapolis.

Source: Indianapolis Star

Categories: Assess; Engage; On-boarding; Retention Strategies; Transition

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